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U to celebrate 8,442 graduates at 2021 virtual commencement

A campus-wide virtual commencement will take place on Thursday, May 6, at 7 p.m.

Ephraim Kum, former president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah, records remarks for the 2021 virtual commencement.

In celebration of a class that has persevered through unprecedented challenges, the University of Utah’s 152nd general commencement will be held virtually on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 7 p.m. on In-person, outdoor college convocations will be held May 5-8, with the exception of the schools of Dentistry and Medicine and the colleges of Law and Pharmacy which will hold their ceremonies later in the month.

“Our graduates distinguished themselves by completing their degrees in incredibly difficult circumstances,” said Michael L. Good, interim president. “We celebrate their achievements and are excited to see what they accomplish in the next phase of their lives. We are confident they have the skills, expertise and knowledge to excel and contribute to making our world a better place.”

The U will celebrate 8,442 graduates at what will be the second virtual commencement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After showing impressive tenacity and making it to graduation during a pandemic, the Class of 2021 represents an especially resilient group of students, including Kirsten Caron, the 2021 General Commencement student speaker.

Kirsten Caron stands in graduation cap and robe with black banner background which reads, "change"

Kirsten Caron, the 2021 General Commencement student speaker.

Caron first attended the U when she was 18. Along the way, she became a single, working mother with little time to continue pursuing her degree. Now, at age 43, she has earned her degree in psychology with a certificate in applied positive psychology and plans to ultimately become a therapist to help transgender teenagers and their families.

“My child came out as non-binary a few years ago,” said Caron. “I’m a member of the queer community myself and I’ve always been fully supportive of that, but I quickly realized there is a lot missing in terms of legislation, school policies and just navigating my child’s gender journey. That’s what really inspired me to go back to school and to finish even after the pandemic hit. I’m incredibly proud of all of us in this graduating class for our resilience and bravery.”

Read more student stories from the Class of 2021 here.

The 2021 General Commencement keynote speaker will be Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell. The broadcast will also feature congratulatory messages from academic deans, cameos from student hosts and many new, fun and “binge-worthy” elements.

“After more than a year of producing virtual events, we’ve figured out some new ways to create the engaging, memorable commencement the Class of 2021 deserves,” said Jeff Hanson, executive producer for University Marketing & Communications. “This year’s Commencement will take you beyond the podium and get you out and about across campus. There will be more music, more visuals, more student presenters and more scenes from the campus you know and love.”

About the graduating class:

(These numbers are based on data available prior to graduation and are subject to change.)

By the numbers:
  • Students in the Class of 2021 represent 26 Utah counties, all 50 U.S. states and 66 foreign countries
  • 8,442 graduates
  • 9,035 degrees (some graduates receive more than one degree); 5,729 bachelor’s degrees; 2,353 master’s degrees; 657 doctoral degrees; 89 juris doctors; 112 doctors of medicine, 44 doctors of pharmacy; and 51 doctors of dentistry
  • 245 degrees will be awarded from the university’s Honors College
  • 4,160 self-identified men, 4,220 self-identified women and 62 nonbinary/unidentified
  • 3.399 is the average undergraduate grade point average
  • 25 is the average age of bachelor’s degree recipients; the youngest graduating undergraduate is 18, the oldest is 86
  • 31 is the average age of students receiving graduate degrees; the youngest is 21 and the oldest is 75
  • The top 10 undergraduate majors are: psychology, communication, kinesiology, biology, nursing, computer science, mechanical engineering, economics, political science and finance
  • 345 veterans are receiving degrees
  • Interim President Michael L. Good will officiate
  • Student speaker: Kirstin Caron, who is graduating with a degree in psychology
  • Keynote speaker: Donovan Mitchell, NBA player for the Utah Jazz
Special awards:
  • Honorary doctoral degrees will be presented to William J. Rutter, C. Hope Eccles and Russell M. Nelson
  • The Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence, a $50,000 cash award and the most prestigious honor the university bestows on its faculty, will be announced separately
  • Faculty receiving special awards will be recognized in a prelude video beginning prior to commencement at 6:45 p.m. at
Schedule for college convocations
  • In-person college convocations will be held May 5-8, 2021. Learn more here.
Joining the event
  • Gather friends and family, wear your regalia or Utah attire and join the virtual general commencement ceremony at
  • Graduates are encouraged to share memories of their time at the U and graduation photos on social media using #UtahGrad21.